The Europa League clash between Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool will mark the return of Jurgen Klopp to Signal-Iduna Park, a place where he made a name for himself. And while this is going to be an emotional occasion for both the manager and the Millionaires fans, the two sets of players will only have good result on their minds as the coveted title keeps getting closer.
Klopp’s replacement at Signal-Iduna Park, Thomas Tuchel needed a while to get his ideas across after he was given the high-profile job, but he would soon prove to be a perfect successor for the current Liverpool manager. After recovering from a slow start, Borussia started raising their form on all fronts, and they have been pretty impressive ever since mid October. In spite of the amazing league run, the Millionaires look set to miss out on the Bundesliga trophy, but the DFB Pokal and Europa League titles are well within reach. Borussia clearly took their European campaign very seriously, recording double wins over FC Porto and Tottenham Hotspur in the knockout stages, and that certainly makes them the favourites in the clash with Liverpool. Having seen how Spurs were punished for fielding a second-string side at Signal-Iduna Park, Jurgen Klopp will probably resist temptation to do so, but the Millionaires are, nonetheless, in a good position to make it five Europa League wins in a row. The team are flying high at the moment having won five straight fixtures in all competitions and they also have three important players back to the side.
There have been some very good news for Thomas Tuchel considering that Ilkay Gundogan, Mats Hummels and Sokratis Papastathopoulos have resumed full training.
This means that back-up centre-back Neven Subotic is the only unavailable player at the moment, having been ruled out of the season through thrombosis.
Back to back setbacks against Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur have all but ruined Liverpool’s chances of achieving a top 4 finish in the Premiership, but there is still a lot to play for in the remainder of the season. Having also narrowly missed out on a Capital One Cup trophy, the Reds will want to try and lift the Europa League title, especially since that would also secure them the Champions League qualification. Standing between them and the semi-finals of the competition is Jurgen Klopp’s former side Borussia Dortmund, who have been in tremendous form of late. Liverpool, nonetheless, have reason for optimism having performed really well lately, and coming off a promising performance against Tottenham. The Reds do need to improve their away form in Europe having won just one of last seven fixtures on the road (D4 L2), but they are also unbeaten in last five and probably wouldn’t mind making it four away draws in a row at Signal-Iduna Park. Much will depend on the availability of Roberto Firmino, who has become a key member of the squad in the past couple of months.
The Brazilian forward missed several games through a hamstring injury and despite making the trip to Dortmund, he is not certain to feature.
Playmaker Philippe Coutinho suffered no ill-effects of the long journey to and from South America and he will keep his place in the side.
Key Factors to Consider
- Liverpool recorded a 4-0 win in the only meeting with Dortmund
- Borussia won all four fixtures in Europa League knockout rounds
- Dortmund have seven wins in last eight EL games at home
- Liverpool won just one of last seven EL away fixtures (D4 L2)
- The Reds scored 11 goals in last five away games
Borussia Dortmund have been quite impressive in the Europa League knockout stages and given the form they are in, the Millionaires should be able to extend the excellent run. But, with Coutinho and Firmino back to the sides, Liverpool are a real danger up front and we are backing them to score at Signal-Iduna Park.
Verdict: Home win + both teams to score
Best Odds: 9/4